3 children dead after found unconscious on Coney Island beach; mother being questioned by police

Tuesday, September 13, 2022
3 kids drowned at NYC beach; mom being questioned, NYPD says
Three children have died after they were found unconscious on a Coney Island beach Monday morning. Lucy Yang has the latest on the tragic story.

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Three children have died after they were found unconscious on a Coney Island beach Monday morning, and police believe they may have been drowned by their mother.

The bodies of the 7-year-old boy, 4-year-old girl and 3-month-old boy were found around 4:40 a.m. following a nearly three-hour search that began when a relative called police, worried the woman intended to harm her children.

The children were rushed to Coney Island Hospital, where all three were pronounced dead.

The victims were later identified as 7-year-old Zachary Merdy, 4-year-old Lilana and 3-month-old Oliver Bondarev.

The 30-year-old mother, who has not yet been identified, was found about 90 minutes later soaking wet, "nearly catatonic" and barefoot, according to police, about 2 miles down the boardwalk from the section of Coney Island where she lived.

Officers first received a phone call around 1:40 a.m. from a concerned family member that someone may have harmed three small children.

When officers arrived at the home on Neptune Avenue, a man who identified himself as the father of the three children answered the door and told police he believed the mother was with the children on the boardwalk.

Police then began to canvas the boardwalk and surrounding area for any sign of the mother or children.

That's when they received a second phone call from family members who were with the mother on the boardwalk, about two miles from where the children were found.

The 30-year-old mother was "soaking wet" and barefoot and would not communicate with officers, according to NYPD officials. Sonia Rincon has the story.

NYPD Press Conference:

NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth E. Corey gives an update on the deaths of 3 children found on a beach in Coney Island.

Police said the suspect made statements to family members that she drowned her children, but she stopped talking when officer arrived and has not made any statements since.

"So far, she's not said anything," NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said.

She has since been taken to the hospital twice, and postpartum depression that led to postpartum psychosis is being considered as a possible motive.

Police say she is currently at NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn.

"The mother was soaking wet," Corey said. "Whether she had been out in the rain or whether she had been in the water is all speculative at this point. She was wet, she was barefoot, and she was not communicative to the officers."

The mother has prior incidents of harassment and aggravated harassment that did not result in charges.

She has no prior arrests or a history of being emotionally disturbed.

Police say the actions appear to be premeditated and not something that occurred at the spur of a moment, and detectives are looking into her past and interviewing neighbors and relatives to determine what had transpired.

She has not yet been charged.

Neighbors who knew the mother said she seemed like a good mom and that the kids seemed healthy and well cared for. If there was something horribly wrong, they never would have guessed.

Allen McFarland, who coached the 7-year-old in football, described the oldest son as a happy energetic child.

He said that while it seemed like the mother was juggling a lot at once, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"Solid kid, really good kid, always smiling on the football field," he said. "She definitely cared, you know what I mean? That's why it was such a shock."

Police are asking anyone who may have seen the mother and children at anytime last night or early this morning to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

ALSO READ | NYPD commissioner discusses drop in shootings, rise in other crimes like robberies

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell will discuss crime statistics across the five boroughs Wednesday afternoon. Darla Miles has the story.


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